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'Islam in Appalachia'

“Appalachian American Arab Muslim” Malak Khader

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“To be an Appalachian American Arab Muslim … that’s a big title. I feel like I’m wearing so many hats at the same time.” Malak Khader of Huntington, West Virginia finds herself constantly fighting stereotypes about her religion and her home state. She started a multiethnic Girl Scout Troop at the Muslim Association of Huntington mosque. “The Girl Scout values align with Islamic values. It teaches you to build your character, it teaches you community service, it teaches you to educate people and be educated yourself.”

Malak’s full interview is part of our 360° video series Muslim in Appalachia. This series enables viewers to step into the worlds of Appalachian Muslims to experience what it means to navigate Muslim and Appalachian identity while challenging stereotypes of both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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'Islam in Appalachia'

Muslim convert bridges divide between Christians and Muslims in Appalachia

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Bob Jones, 73, was photographed at the home of one of his ancestors, six generations back, Archibald W. Gribble in Pisgah, W.Va. Jones traces his ancestry back to the earliest European settlers to West Virginia, including seven generations back to Morgan Morgan, and his son David Morgan. The earliest Jones, David and Mary Jones, who immigrated from Wales, settled at White Day Creek in 1800. There are no photographs of those ancestors who lived prior to the invention of photography, so we’ve got other relatives, Homer and Louisa Riddle as stand-ins.

 

Bob Jones is a sixth generation West Virginian and a Muslim convert. He feels at home in Appalachia at the intersection between his Christian roots and Islamic faith and lives within 10 miles of where his ancestors immigrated to W.Va. in the 1800s. “West Virginia is my story,” he says.

Bob’s full interview is part of our 360° video series Muslim in Appalachia. This series enables viewers to step into the worlds of Appalachian Muslims to experience what it means to navigate Muslim and Appalachian identity while challenging stereotypes of both. 

Jones: “People don’t have the slightest notion that I have any association with Islam at all. Unless they know me. So they come up and tell me stuff that is very, very offensive. And I tell them, now wait a minute… A lot of people are afraid now. They’re very insecure. So I think this is a very dangerous time. And you’ve got a leader who has appealed to this constituency, who expects him to deliver on it.”

In ‘100 Days, 100 Voices’ Nancy Andrews presents photographs depicting the diversity of voices across Appalachia. These portraits strive to show the varied faces, passions, issues and opinions from around the region. Interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity. If you have an idea for ‘100 Days, 100 Voices’ please contact Nancy Andrews on Twitter @NancyAndrews or email at nancy.andrews [at] mail.wvu.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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